Khampheng Saysompheng

H.E. Khampheng Saysompheng
Search result
Khampheng Saysompheng
Minister, Labour and Social Welfare, Lao PDR; Chair, ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Social Welfare and Development
2 Jul 2020
Children, Education

What are the strengths and opportunities for the promotion of rights and welfare of vulnerable groups in Lao PDR’s perspective?

Minister Saysompheng

Lao PDR has accorded high importance to social protection especially for the disadvantaged and vulnerable groups. This national commitment also resonates with our adherence to international and regional normative frameworks related to social protection, from the lens of human rights, labour, economic empowerment, and the 2030 Development Agenda, among others.

For Lao PDR, we have made tremendous efforts to translate the high-level policy commitments into much needed actions for the people. The issues of social protection and social welfare are one of the key priorities in our national economic and social development plan (2016-2020) and in other reforms such as in the areas of poverty eradication and labour skills development to lift the quality of life of the poor and vulnerable groups in order to ensure that they are part of the national development process.

Aside from social protection, welfare and assistance policies, the rights and dignity of vulnerable groups are key to our planning and implementation as we believe in participatory development where all stakeholders shall be empowered. We continue to work hard and strengthen engagement with ASEAN and development partners to exchange good practices, technical expertise and resources, with the aim of achieving good health and well-being for all.

Can Your Excellency expound on the policy recommendations from the 10th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Social Welfare and Development (AMMSWD) in Vientiane that focused on social protection for vulnerable children?

Minister Saysompheng

The theme of the 10th AMMSWD held in Vientiane, Lao PDR last year was on social protection for vulnerable children. Lao PDR believes that children are a critical force for both economic and social development of the country. However, challenges remain for vulnerable children especially the ones living in rural areas and those suffering from poverty and deprivation. Hence, we have been working to promote and protect their rights and to support their welfare.

On behalf of AMMSWD, I would like to reiterate that the needs of all children shall be acknowledged and taken into account in the design, planning, and implementation of any social protection measures concerning them. This is in line with the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and the SDGs as children’s issues cut across all goals and action points.

Children in Lao PDR, especially those under three years of age, receive assistance and support from the government in collaboration with development partners and UN agencies with focus on the areas of nutrition, education and access to essential services. The ultimate objectives, aside from ensuring the rights and welfare of children, are also to reduce inequalities and forge ahead with human and sustainable development for the country and for our ASEAN region in which no child should be left behind.

How do you envisage the Senior Officials Meeting on Social Welfare and Development (SOMSWD) and ASEAN sectoral bodies, in their continuing efforts to promote the social protection regional agenda?

Minister Saysompheng

I trust that AMMSWD with support from SOMSWD will work closely and tirelessly together towards social protection for all. Our aim is to make social protection inclusive as a transformative tool linking human capital development, justice and sustainability together. This is particularly evident in times of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While promoting and advancing the tenets of the ASEAN Social Protection Declaration and Framework, we at the same time need to: i) strengthen local and community economic and social development; ii) continue to foster environmental sustainability; iii) remain inclusive and do no leave anyone behind; and iv) solidify our collaborative efforts in expanding social protection in times of uncertainties and in the face of emerging risks.

In this regard, I would like to highlight the central role of labour development for the economic growth and well-being of local and rural communities. This is very pertinent in the context of Lao PDR and our stage of development. We need revitalisation of community-led economies to build resilience and establish our strength from the ground-level up. This will be pivotal to the success of all protection measures and for the outcomes of social protection policies at all levels.